Collin Morikawa the artist returns, ends drought with six-shot victory at ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP
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Written by Adam Stanley @Adam_Stanley
Earlier in the week of the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, Collin Morikawa, his wife Katherine, and his agent enjoyed a special meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro – an iconic sushi restaurant known the world over.
Morikawa and his party even had Jiro Ono – the sushi master who is the owner-operator and still works the restaurant as a 97-year-old – make their dishes. Morikawa admitted he may not ever want to have sushi again given how special the meal was.
“I don't know how to explain it other than it just being an incredible experience and an honor to be there sitting in front of him and witnessing just talent, right? It's artwork,” Morikawa said. “I think you can look at that, anyone that has a true passion for something that they really love to do, you can see that artwork they produce and that's what it was. We were very, very lucky.”
Fast forward a few days later and Morikawa had captured the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP – his sixth career PGA TOUR title – after a final-round 63. It was a bogey-free final-round effort emphasized by a 72nd-hole birdie. It was the round of the week. He won by six.
It was artwork.
Morikawa came into the week having not won on the PGA TOUR since The Open Championship in 2021. He hadn’t won anywhere in the world since the DP World Tour Championship that same year.
He won five times on TOUR in about 24 months. It would take him another 24 months, or thereabouts, to get win No. 6.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying, certainly. Coming into the week, Morikawa had notched six top-10 finishes on the season, including a runner-up at The Sentry and a third-place result in his next event, the Farmers Insurance Open. He was close to breaking his winless drought this summer, falling in a playoff to Rickie Fowler at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
“It wasn't like I didn't believe I was going to have another win or … when that was going to happen. It was just more about when it was going to happen, right?” said Morikawa after the final round. “I think the thoughts in your head start piling up of like, OK, well, what did I do differently, what do I need to change?”
Collin Morikawa's news conference after winning ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP
Morikawa said he hasn’t done that much in terms of pivots. His game has been as complete as ever. Into the ZOZO, he ranked fourth this season in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, second in Strokes Gained: Approach and 10th in Strokes Gained: Total. Morikawa is just dialed. Always. His putting, perhaps the lone part of his game that isn't at the same level as his ball striking (he’s 112th this season in Strokes Gained: Putting), was tremendous this week in Japan.
Morikawa said he and caddie Jonathan Jakovac spent nearly three hours Wednesday trying to read the greens better and get more consistent.
“It's nice when things click like that,” he said. “Even the ones that were missing were good putts, they were great looks. Just got to a point today where it was like, I put good speed on it and the ball's going to have a great chance of going in the hole.”
Collin Morikawa's dominating final round leads to victory at ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP
That special effort with the flatstick was on display Sunday at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club as Morikawa made seven birdies en route to his final-round 63. It was two shots better than anyone else for the low round of the day.
“Would have had to play, as it turns out, really, really well today to win. And that's what champions do, right? Collin's a proven champion on the biggest stages, so kudos to him,” said Beau Hossler, who finished tied for second.
Morikawa, who trailed Justin Suh by two shots after 54 holes, got off to a solid start Sunday at 2 under through six holes. Suh struggled, however, and was 2 over through four, and then 3 over through nine. Morikawa stepped on the gas through the midpoint of his Sunday round, making back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 before adding another on the par-4 12th.
Collin Morikawa dials in approach setting up birdie at ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP
“The game felt really good,” Morikawa said. “Knowing that I was two back and just wanting to give yourself a chance with nine holes left, everything just kind of clicked, and we were able to not make any errors really, make the par putts when needed, and it was nice to finish off that front nine with a birdie on 8 and 9.”
His win was a foregone conclusion by the time he birdied the par-4 15th, and at that point – even before the final circle on the card on the 72nd hole – the only question left was how big his margin of victory would be?
Collin Morikawa wins in commanding fashion at ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP
The six-shot triumph is the biggest in tournament history, and now Morikawa joins the likes of Tiger Woods and home-country hero Hideki Matsuyama as winners of the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP.
“It feels incredible. Every win's so different, and every experience, whether it's winning or losing, you learn a lot, but this one just meant the world,” Morikawa said.
Morikawa will now enjoy a two-week holiday through Asia with his wife as they inch closer to celebrating their first wedding anniversary. The win was special. The week was special.
Morikawa, the golf artist, returned in a big way.